This sample itinerary can be tailored to you and your precise requirements and interests. That is what the Egypt specialists at Pomegranate Travel excel at!
A fascinating exploration of Egypt, ancient and modern offerings as you travel the Nile onboard a luxury boat, taking in river views and life, but benefit from your own private guide at each historic stop along the way and at a relaxed pace with plenty of downtime too.
Welcome to Egypt!
Arrive Cairo airport where you will be met and assisted through airport procedures, transfer to hotel.
Expert Briefing & Pyramids
This morning you will start with a private briefing to help put into wider context many of the breathtaking ancient Egyptian sites you will see while on tour, and provide valuable information about the world out of which they emerged. The ancient Egyptian temples were built by Pharaohs and as such we will explore fundamental questions such as the notion of Kingship in ancient Egyptian civilisation: what was the role of the King and the expectations upon him (or her) in terms of religious and cosmic obligations, and the social, political and economic status? From here we will better understand the purpose of the temples in religious and material terms.
Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only one remains today: The Great Pyramid of Giza. If that’s not certified unmissable, we don’t know what is. Giza emerges as a sublime structure, the miraculously accurate realisation of an ideal structure inside which the kings would journey to the next world and emerge as gods. Despite their age, these structures still overwhelm and overpower visitors. You will visit all three of the pyramids at Giza, and also witness them from a panoramic view point where you can see the grandeur of all three together. Proceed to the Great Sphinx with its head of a man and body of a lion, gazing imposingly across the valley. You will complete your tour of the pyramid complex with a walk through the Valley Temple, learning more about the site’s astonishing creation and construction back in 2560–2540 BCE.
Cairo City Tour
The Egyptian Museum (also known as the Cairo Museum) has long been the jewel in Cairo’s crown, and one of the most famous museums in the world. Inaugurated at the turn of the twentieth century, it houses the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities in the world including the iconic pure gold death mask of Tutankhamun, together with many of the other treasures found in his tomb. The glamour and design of these riches is absolutely staggering, and provides an insight into how the Pharaohs and nobles of ancient Egypt must have lived.
One of the best ways to enjoy being in Egypt is to ‘Eat like an Egyptian!’, and today we are hooking you up with a local expert in Egyptian cuisine and the Egyptian street. Your food tour involves four stations, so please come hungry! You will try the national dish Koshary which consists of rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, crispy fried onions and more; falafel which in Egypt is made of fava beans rather than chickpeas and is considered to be a breakfast food; a meze of various traditional dips and starters; and a local fruit or coffee parlor. In addition to enjoying the flavoursome delights tucked away in places you would never walk into on your own, this is a great opportunity to spend some time with a local of Cairo and quiz them on the realities of life in the city.
Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.
Fly To Aswan & Aswan Tour
This morning fly to Aswan. The temple of Philae is an outstanding temple complex dedicated to the goddess Isis and dates to the Ptolemaic age of about 690 BCE. There are many legends associated with Isis and the temple, the most famous being the story of Isis finding the heart of Osiris after his murder by his brother Seth. As with Abu Simbel this temple was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt on higher ground to avoid it being flooded by the damming of the Nile. The temple is reached by motorboat.
Much of what you will see here in Aswan is in some way connected with the momentous damming of the Nile at this point which occurred during the 1960s to control the annual flooding of the Nile and create Lake Nasser. The project took most of a decade and was perhaps one of the most ambitious modern engineering projects to have been undertaken in the Middle East. The scale of the engineering works is pretty impressive and standing at the top of the dam you will enjoy sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding arid desert scenery. Continue to the unfinished obelisk which was ordered by Pharaoh Hatshepsut (1508–1458 BC), and had it been finished it would have been the largest obelisk around at over 40 meters. It seems that its creators started the work of carving it out of the bedrock but the stone became cracked and the project was abandoned. Today it gives fascinating insights into ancient Egyptian engineering and stone cutting techniques.
Spend this afternoon round the pool of your beautiful hotel admiring views of the Nile and then at sunset enjoy a felucca ride to truly take it all in.
Aswan , Egypt
Aswan is also interesting for gaining a first hand understanding into the Nubian community of Egypt. The Nubians are an ethnic group from Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt who were historically traders of gold and spices and have lived in the area of the Nile for thousands of years. Many were forcefully relocated when the damming of the Nile flooded their ancestral homeland.
This morning you will visit the excellent Nubian museum which is packed with Egyptian, Roman and African artefacts. The new Nubian Museum was opened in 1997 and is set in a beautiful building, worth seeing in its own right. Nestled in the hillside, it covers 50,000 square meters of landscaped gardens and buildings, which are divided up into different sections. It is partly an open-air museum where the visitor can wander the paths, meandering between a prehistoric cave with painted rock-art, ancient Egyptian statues, obelisks and columns, Roman frescoes and even a complete Nubian house.
In the afternoon you will board a Nile Cruise for 4 nights.
Temple of Kom Ombo
This morning you will begin cruising up the Nile towards Luxor. The temple of Kom Ombo sits on the shores of the Nile between Luxor and Aswan. The temple dates to the Ptolemaic dynasty around 200 BCE and was dedicated to two gods: Horus the Falcon God who flew high and had good eyes and the people worshipped out of love, and Sobek the crocodile god who was low to the earth and the people worshipped out of fear. This double temple was therefore a recognition that we all contain within us good and bad, and the task of humanity is to maintain the correct balance in the universe and in oneself. Sobek was the god of fertility and so the temple of Kom Ombo became the most important clinic in Egypt for fertility treatment, and many other forms of medicine. The walls abound with intricate pictures depicting ancient Egyptian medicine and hygiene practices such as the washing of food before it is consumed. In order to represent Sobek in the temple, the priests would go to the river Nile and select a crocodile to live in the temple. Once the crocodile died, it would be mummified and replaced, and the mummies can be viewed today at the small but very worthwhile museum just next to the site.
This afternoon relax around the boat’s pool.
Temple of Edfu
The temple of Edfu (also known as the temple of Horus) lies on the west bank of the river Nile between Luxor and Aswan. It dates from a later period than many of Egypt’s key monuments, to the Ptolemaic time about 200 BCE. It is exceptionally well preserved with the entire structure of the sanctuary – walls, floor and ceiling – intact. It is dedicated to the falcon god Horus, who according to Egyptian mythology defeated the god Seth at this site, and the temple walls are full of inscriptions about the battle, as well as about life in Egypt during this time.
This afternoon relax around the boat’s pool. Later in the day you will cross the Esna Lock.
Valley of the Kings and Luxor
The West Bank of Luxor was the necropolis of Thebes – a city of the dead – symbolically located where the evening sun sets. Just as the sun set every night and rose every morning, it was believed that man died and was born again, and the mode of burial was crucial in enabling that journey. A huge array of tombs are here to be explored. Some of the burial chambers such as those of Queen Nefertari were miraculously protected from both man and the elements, and the colours of the paints have to be seen to be believed, it is as if they were decades not millennia old. Others, such as the temple tomb of Queen Hatshepsut have been painstakingly restored to their former glory which provide an excellent insight into how the tombs must have looked in their day. Perhaps the most famous of the tombs is that discovered in 1922 by the British explorer and archeologist Howard Carter – the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun, which was discovered complete with thousands of gold and jewelled objects, military equipment, clothes and food, all to enable him to pass to the next life.
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, seat of the spiritual life of ancient Egypt. It is therefore hardly surprising that the area of and surrounding Luxor is amongst the most densely populated with temples, tombs and monuments. Karnak was the earthly dwelling of the sun god Amun-Re, the most important spiritual site in all of ancient Egypt and consisted of shrines, obelisks and temples. Huge does not even begin to describe the scale of Karnak. This site took hundreds of years to build and refine from the time of the Middle Kingdom (about 2000 BCE) into the Ptolemaic Kingdom (about 300 BCE), with around thirty Pharaohs contributing to the build. Because of the period of time over which it was built, the variety and diversity of archeological remains at Karnak is quite simply unparalleled. One of the highlights of a visit is the Great Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, the hall is 5000 squ m in size and contains 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows.
Return to the boat for some downtime around the pool.
Early this evening head out again to the temple of Luxor which is beautifully and atmospherically lit at night. It dates to 1400 BCE and is smaller than that at Karnak and was intended for priests rather than the general public. This is also the site where kings were crowned (Alexander the Great claimed to have been crowned at Luxor, but in fact it is unlikely he travelled this far South). The temple is flanked by two seated statues and a pinkish coloured granite obelisk.
Luxor to Sharm El Sheik
Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
Today you will leave your cruise and fly from Luxor to Sharm El Sheik. You will check in to your hotel an the rest of the day will spent at leisure.
Day at Leisure
Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
Spend your day at leisure perhaps taking a dive in the beautiful waters.
Day at Leisure
Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
Today is your final day to relax before you head home.
Transfer to airport
Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight whether direct home or connecting through Cairo. We trust you will be leaving with many special memories!